So we’re only in March and yet 2017 has been one of the most exciting years for tech innovation in a long time.
From levitating speakers to smart hairbrushes, this year’s CES event in January turned up the party lights in Las Vegas as the most innovative and brilliantly weird tech was showcased to the world, while Mobile World Congress (MWC) saw Nokia’s nostalgic return among other announcements.
Below are some of the most interesting tech innovations and insights from this year so far…
The battle of the voice-led personal assistants
One of the standout tech plays of last year was Amazon Echo, the retailer’s very own voice-led robot assistant called Alexa.
At CES this year, Alexa was ubiquitous. Amazon’s strategy is clear: it’s rolling out Alexa to a whole host of markets.
Ubtech Robotics Lynx will pack Alexa’s smart software to its LED-flashing rotating robot. LG’s Smart Instaview Refrigerator (complete with a 29-inch touchscreen) uses the personal assistant. Even environment sensor First Alert uses the Alexa software to track conditions such as the temperature and humidity of your child’s bedroom.
But anything Amazon can do, Google should be able to do better, right? Not to mention Apple. It’s Amazon’s Alexa vs. Google’s Assistant vs. Apple’s Siri in a battle of voice-enabled personal assistants.
It promises to be a real rumble in the tech jungle!
The year we finally crack AR/VR?
There have been a lot of false dawns about when virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR) might enter the mainstream, but could this year be the one?
ODG’s R8 and R9 AR headset may have done the trick. Using Android 7.0 Nougat, the glasses support most apps you can think of in actual AR. Whether you want to play your favourite game, watch a movie or just do some reading, the sunglasses-style headset could be the one for you.
How about Lenovo’s new Windows Holographic VR headset? Or will Intel’s new VR headset that replaces furniture in the room with more game-appropriate scenery make the biggest splash towards the end of the year?
Homes connected and protected
It may not get all the plaudits of an all-dancing robot or the grandiosity of a driverless car, but one thing that sometimes gets overlooked is how we’re keeping our increasingly connected home secure.
Just as you would protect your house with a fitted burglar alarm or an automatic activity light on your porch, so should you stop hackers invading your personal property.
That said, the launch of Symantec’s Norton Core and Bitdefender’s Box shows that security is still top of the agenda for tech brands.
Symantec predicts there’ll be tens of devices per household in four or five years’ time, and the release of its Norton Core – an orb-like device that connects to your smartphone – offers real-time protection to your connected IoT devices, allowing you to immediately pause all internet activity in your home at the touch of a screen.
Cybersecurity is certainly one of the issues to watch out for this year.
Return of the mobile king
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rather large rock recently, you won’t have failed to notice the return of Nokia. Anyone who owned a mobile phone when the handheld device really took off in the early 2000s will have a nostalgic soft spot for this brand.
With plenty of buzz around the launch of the revamped 3310 at MWC, we expect to see big things from the now Microsoft-owned manufacturer. As details of the new Nokia 8 begin to leak, the brand could soon become another big player in the hugely congested market.
Backed by Foxcom, the largest phone producer on the planet, CCS Insight’s Ben Woods thinks that Nokia could take 5% of the global smartphone market by 2019. Watch this space!
So it’s been a hugely exciting year so far for tech and we’re all anticipating the further spoils that 2017 will bring.
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